NIH defines obesity as a chronic, relapsing medical disease. There is a popular misconception that obesity is a weakness, that the patient should be able to control it.

But let’s compare obesity to a couple of other chronic diseases like hypertension or diabetes. With diabetes or hypertension, a patient will improve with the proper medications, lifestyle changes and follow up. When someone with one of these diseases stabilizes blood sugar or blood pressure, they are not taken off the medications that have improved the situation. The doctor needs to continue the medications because without them, the hypertension or diabetes will return.

This is what is meant by chronic and relapsing. You will not be able to cure it, you will have to manage it for the rest of your life.

In treating obesity, one of the most discouraging aspects is weight regain. This is especially discouraging for people who have undergone surgical weight loss and been initially successful, only to gain their weight back. The lifestyle changes a person undergoes after surgery have to be continued for life to stay successful.